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HIV is an abbreviation for immunodeficiency virus while AIDS is the acronym for the immunodeficiency syndrome. HIV is a condition that affects the immune system of the human beings, and it is caused by immunodeficiency virus hence the name HIV. The virus destroys critical cells that are required for the fight of the diseases and infections (Brewer 613). Thus, people infected with HIV are prone to many infections. HIV was discovered in the early 1980s and since then statistics as per 2010 show that approximately 34 million people have contracted the virus across the globe (Center for Disease Control and Prevention par. 11). The following paper will discuss how HIV is transmitted, whether there is a possible cure, risks of HIV infection and the infection stages of HIV.
Implications of HIV
The spread of HIV is through some infected body fluids. The virus attacks the body’s immune system, i.e. the T cells also called CD4 cells (Baeten and Grant 145). The increased viral load leads to destruction of the CD4 cells. This reduces the ability of the body to resist infections and hence creates room for opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis and cancers that invade the weak immune system.
Stages of HIV infection
HIV infection takes place in three phases. The acute infection is the first phase, which appears in the early stage after contracting the virus. The symptoms at this stage include influenza that may last for 2-3 weeks. However, some people may not depict significant symptoms. The clinical latency is the second stage characterized by the reproduction of HIV in very low levels. The virus is still active though symptoms may not be manifested (Holtgrave 373). With proper management of the HIV, infected people can stay in the clinical latency stage for many years. However, without treatment, the disease may progress faster. Finally, AIDS appears in stage three. In this stage, the victim may suffer from different infections such as tuberculosis and cancers. In addition the stage is characterizes by decreased count of CD4 cells. For instance, the count is usually less than 200 cells/mm3.
The coming into contact with certain body fluids such as blood, semen, rectal fluids, breast milk and vaginal fluids from an infected person can result in transmission of the HIV (Lafeuillade 125). The most common mode of transmission is normally through risky sexual behaviors such as failure to use a condom during sexual encounters, and multiple sex partners. Anal sex is the highest risk sexual behavior followed by vaginal sex (CDC par. 12). Other less common modes of infections include mother to child in the course of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, use of unsterilized syringes and needles. In addition, in rare cases, HIV has been transmitted by oral, blood transfusion, being bitten by a person with HIV and contact between broken skin and deep open mouth kissing where the partners have bleeding gums or mouth sores (CDC par. 14).
HIV has no cure; however, there are antiretroviral medicines that are used to prevent the progression of the HIV to AIDS. The drugs reduce the progression of the virus from the second stage to the third stage and enhance healthy living among the HIV positive people. The antiretroviral drugs have also been found to slow down the rate of transmission. In addition, vaccination trials have been conducted. However, the trials have yielded partial reduction in the transmission risk as of 2012 (Kent 72). The trials have given hope to researchers; hence, ongoing researches on medicines and vaccinations that could cure HIV.
Baeten, Jared, and Robert Grant. “Use of antiretroviral for HIV prevention: What do we know and what don’t we know?” Current HIV/AIDS Report 10.2 (2013): 142-151. Print.
Brewer, Devon. “Knowledge of specific HIV transmission modes in relation to HIV infection in Mozambique.” Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 36.1 (2004): 613-621. Print.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV/AIDS. Georgia: CDC. 2016. Web.
Holtgrave, David. “Is the elimination of HIV infection within reach in the United States? Lessons from an epidemiologic transmission model.” Public Health Reports 125.3 (2010): 372-375. Print.
Kent, Stephen. “Trying to cure HIV with immunotherapy: Not so simple.” The Lancet HIV 2.3 (2015): 72-73. Print.
Lafeuillade, Alain. “Potential Strategies for an HIV infection cure.” HIV Clinical Trials 12.3 (2011): 121-130. Print.